A real estate developer has received the green light to develop 69 acres of empty desert near Linda Vista Boulevard and Interstate 10 into a residential subdivision, after making amendments at the direction of the Marana Town Council.
On May 7, The Planning Center, a local planning and landscape architecture firm, presented its land use concept, which requires 52 of those acres to be rezoned from industrial uses to single-family residential housing with medium density.
This change will allow eight residences to be built on each acre, instead of just two. The previous entitlement allowed 104 lots to be built, and the Planning Center proposed 187. Fifty of those homes would be a minimum of 6,000 square feet, and 137 of them would be a minimum of 4,800 square feet. They kept 17 acres as designated open desert.
The residential subdivision will have one access point from Joplin Lane, lending the name Joplin Estates. Closer west toward the interstate, The Planning Center expects commercial businesses to set up shop.
“While the users are currently unknown at this time, we believe that commercial is an appropriate location at this portion of the site because it provides an adequate transition from the railroad and Interstate 10,” said Lexi Weller with The Planning Center.
Surrounding this parcel is the upcoming Linda Vista Village, a master-planned community to the north, a handful of smaller subdivisions, an animal shelter and a horse training facility.
Neighbors were most concerned about how the new development will impact the existing drainage and flooding issues in the area. During the rainy season, water moves through the Tortolita Fan and channels down to the residences through the Cañada Agua wash.
“We are proposing to channelize that wash which will direct some of that water and significantly reduce the flooding impact to those neighbors south and southeast of our project site,” Weller said.
Weller and her colleagues showed council a site plan last month with one park that doubled as a drainage basin surrounding a central recreational structure such as a ramada or a playground. Linda Morales, CEO of The Planning Center, told the council the basin would only have pooling water one or two days out of the year, and would otherwise serve as a grassy field for families to use.
The council was willing to change the land use and increase the housing density in the area, but members were troubled by what they saw as a lack of amenities for the people who will eventually move into those homes.
“There isn’t anything else down here in this area, there aren’t parks, there aren’t recreational areas outside of this so far, and I think that if we’re going to put a lot of smaller lots into a parcel like this, we need to have a park big enough so that people can actually go and recreate,” councilmember Dave Bowen said. “Without throwing a frisbee and hitting their neighbor’s garage, there really isn’t anywhere else to go.”
Mayor Ed Honea agreed, adding that this plan wasn’t specific enough to hold the builder accountable to the amount of park space and amenities that are included.
“There are zero amenities to this project,” Honea said of the original proposal. “The mall may be next door, but you’re not going to send your 6 year old through a drainage basin to the mall to go play.”
The Planning Center framed this development as a place where working individuals or new families could buy an affordable home. If options to the north like Dove Mountain are out of their price range, this would be a better choice that is also close to the mall and the freeway.
Councilmember Roxanne Ziegler agreed with this point, adding that people should be able to become residents of Marana and still have access to homeownership.
However, the council didn’t want to approve the plan as it was back in May, and instead granted a continuance so The Planning Center could come back with a new proposal.
On June 18, they presented a new plan to council that got rid of two home lots so they could include more square-footage for another park and more open space.
They included a 12,000 square-foot dog park with a shade structure and increased the size of the main park from 36,000 to 79,000 square feet. Between the two, there will be a playground, a turf field, picnic tables, ramadas and drinking fountains for both humans and dogs.
“We believe it will give some substantial area for this community and surrounding neighbors to come and use the park, throw a frisbee, walk their dog, play with their children, etcetera,” Weller said.
There will also be a 20-foot wide, ADA-accessible walking trail included in the property.
“It looks so much better than it did the first time,” Honea remarked on the new proposal. The other council members agreed and unanimously approved the rezoning.
With Joplin Estates in the works, Morales said this helps complete another puzzle piece that will eventually connect Linda Vista Boulevard to Cortaro Farms Road via Joplin Lane.